Sipping Guide: Port Wine

We just came back from two weeks in Portugal! I’ve never been before and was so excited to learn about the wines and port – and boy did I ever! We tried different types of wines every night with dinner, and we visited about 8 port houses throughout the Douro region. Here’s some highlights:

img_5314Quinta Do Bomfim was by far our favourite port house that we visited on our trip. It’s located about 2.5 hours from Porto in the small town of Pinhão, where a bunch of other port houses live.

We went through the estate tour and learned about how they started and their port process (still the traditional feet mushing grapes!), and then sipped on six of their ports, ranging from vintages to some of their most popular blends.

With the Douro Valley mountains in the background, and a bright and sunny atmosphere filled with the most delightful staff, this is a port house that shouldn’t be missed! Fun fact: if you book in advance you can also have a picnic on top of their estate hill with a bottle of port for 25 euros per person!

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Back over in Porto, Sandeman seamed to steal the show. Their Tawny Reserve was to die for. Accompanied with a hopping patio, heaters, groovy jazz beats and remarkable advertising, it’s no wonder you see the Sandeman logo and ports all over Portugal!

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Churchill’s was another great stop in Porto! At the end of the port house chain, this place had a really cool vibe, and some different tasting ports than the rest. The white port (which was actually amber) was exquisite and unlike any other!

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Up a steep hill and we were at Taylor’s port house. They provide you with an audio guide to go through the cellar, which was extremely long and repetitive. But at the end, they give you some port to sip on in an enchanted garden with the view of the city. It’s no wonder this is one of the most popular port houses in the area!

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Last but not least, Quinta Do Noval made it on our top list. At this port house, the staff really took the time to help us understand the different types of port, how its made and how it is labelled! Here we just tried the basics, but they were a great lesson for our palate and helped us decide which ports we were going to bring home with us!

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Looking back at what we learned during our stay in Porto, it’s incredible how they have kept the old process of making port alive. There’s so much history (and aging) with port. I definitely appreciate port wine more now, and since coming home we have stocked our bar with both our take home ports and some that are sold here in the LCBO!

Note: it can’t be called port unless it comes from Porto!

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